Monday, November 16, 2009

Pretend Soup

You may recognize Mollie Katzen's name from "The Moosewood Cookbook," once of the best-selling cookbooks of all time. Published in 1977, "Moosewood" earned its strong following with its conversational tone and precious pen-and-ink illustrations. But, the biggest draw was the easy-to-prepare vegetarian recipes. The book became an instant classic on college campuses and in hippy, crunchy towns around the country.

Until recently, I had no idea that Katzen has also penned many other cookbooks, including "Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes," which is geared to the kid set.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about how I want Jesse and Ruby to learn how to cook. For one, I'm hoping if they help prepare the food, they might be more interested in eating it. Another thing, I'd love it if at some point they could start preparing dinner for me and Avo! Finally, I figure if they learn their way around a kitchen at this age, they won't do what I did and wait until I was 40 to learn how to cook.

Like most kids, they enjoy helping me bake cookies or other sweet treats. But I'm trying to segue into more savory dishes.

Pretend Soup is still pretty sweet, but at least it teaches the concept of measurements. It may be pretend soup, but it's real something.


2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 small banana, sliced
1 cup berries (any kind, fresh or frozen — if they're frozen, defrost them first, and use all the juice it'll add)


1. Place the orange juice in a bowl.
2. Add yogurt, honey, and lemon juice.
3. Whisk "until it is all one color.".
4. Place 5 banana slices and 2 tablespoons berries in each bowl.
5. Ladle the soup over the berries and bananas.
6. Eat!

Note: You can add other kinds of fruit as well. Slices of kiwi are especially pretty.

The kids had a lot of fun following the directions. Of course, they fought over who was going to add the honey and then begged to lick the spoon afterward.

The soup itself was sort of funky tasting -- I'm not crazy about the yogurt/orange juice combo. The kids weren't either.

I dumped the whole bowl of "soup" into the blender, tossed in some more bananas and frozen berries. Success! We made ourselves a delicious fruit smoothie. So now, in addition to learning how to follow a recipe, the girls learned how to improvise.

"If you don't want to be a writer anymore, maybe you could work somewhere making smoothies," Jesse said.

I guess she liked her smoothie.


Kathy N. said...

I think your goal is completely reasonable. When my mom went back to school to get her MA degree, my sister and I each started cooking once a week. We had to pick out a recipe in advance and give my mom a shopping list during a weekly family meeting. I LOVED DOING THIS. I started at about 11 years old; my sister was 9. We got so much praise and kudos; I looked forward to my night, and sometimes I even tried to steal one of my dad's nights.

Needless to say, since I've been cooking by myself since age 11, I'm pretty domesticated in the kitchen. That doesn't mean we always eat healthy home cooked food around here, by the way, but I am so grateful for that early training and positive reinforcement!

Come over to my blog to see what my 2 year old said when my husband (finally) defended his dissertation!

Undomesticated Me said...

My kids seem to be enjoying my cooking adventures. It's important for me that they have a positive association with cooking as something that is fun.

Kathy N. said...

That's great! I'm so happy for them and you!

Muffy Sainte-Marie said...

I loved to cook when I was a kid - my mum got us started early too. I wish I could remember the name of the kids cookbook we had - I may even still have it (I'll send it to Jesse and Ruby if I unearth it!)...
Glad you turned that soup into a smoothie. Sounds much yummier that way. You know I'm a big fan of the ole smoothie (I make one every morning). I'm even thinking about having a smoothie truck at the farmer's market next summer!